By Robert Mann
When an angry reader emailed recently to ask how I justified calling myself a Christian, given my beliefs on social issues like marriage equality, I told him my relationship with God was none of his business. My response surely didn’t satisfy him. And I know it didn’t satisfy me.
I’m not spoiling for theological fights with readers about why I believe God does not condemn the innate sexual orientation of those he creates, but the inquiry was fair. I sometimes discuss my faith in this space and when readers question me about it, they deserve better than, “Butt out.”
I offer apologies to my correspondent. I doubt he will like my extended answer, but here it is: I’m considering dropping the moniker, Christian. The racists, homophobes and Islamophobes in these parts have so tarnished it that many of us now need better words to characterize our faith.
A few years ago, I wrote a column for an online faith publication, in which I mused about adopting new terminology:
“Pat Robertson, Phil Robertson, Tony Perkins, the Westboro Baptist Church, the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition. Think about the image of Christianity that these people and organizations — and dozens more like them — portray to the world. The un-churched who watch these people see Christianity as grim, unwelcoming, judgmental, joyless and self-righteous. Just what part of their hell-fire-and-brimstone sermons would be remotely attractive to a person tormented, for example, by alcoholism?”
I decided then to keep “Christian,” writing, “The public’s view of Christians will change when our Christ-inspired love for others overpowers and drowns out the hurtful words and actions of Robertson (Phil and Pat) and those like them. Changing our name won’t rehabilitate the term. Changing our actions will.”
I wrote that, however, long before white Evangelical Christians voted overwhelmingly to elect Donald Trump — a serial liar, sexual abuser, racist and Islamophobe — as president. That was also before Evangelicals in Alabama and elsewhere rallied to defend Republican U.S. Senate nominee Roy Moore, a racist and homophobic former state judge accused of molesting at least two teenagers when he was in his early 30s.
It’s not only that many so-called Christians accept Moore’s dubious denials over the testimony of these women. Just as troubling is that they worship Moore, unconcerned about whether he’s a pedophile because, you know, any Democrat is worse than a child molester.
If you need any evidence about the moral and spiritual bankruptcy of the pretenders who have hijacked the Christian faith, consider that almost 40 percent of self-professed Evangelicals in Alabama say charges of pedophilia make them more, not less, likely to support Moore.
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